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Special Report

Did Trump launch a successful attack against Jeb?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," October 19, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not blaming George Bush, but I don't want Jeb Bush to say my brother kept us safe because September 11th was one of the worst days in the history of this country.

I believe that if I were running things I doubt those families would have -- I doubt that those people would have been in the country.

JEB BUSH, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know why he keeps bringing this up. It doesn't show that he is a serious person as it relates to being commander and chief and being the architect of a foreign policy. Across the spectrum of foreign policy, Mr. Trump talks about things that as though he is still on "The Apprentice."

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, George Bush talking about George Bush. Jeb Bush responding about Donald Trump and 9/11, saying that it was a security failure for it to happen under George W. Bush's watch and that a President Trump possibly could have stopped 9/11, as you look live now in Anderson, South Carolina. Donald Trump holding another rally, the campaign says some 5,000 people there. Clearly he is getting the numbers at all of these events. And he is getting the numbers in polls. The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll has Trump at 25 percent, his highest mark in this particular poll. There you see Ben Carson trailing just behind, Marco Rubio on the move going up, Ted Cruz ticking up as well. As you look at the RCP average, the Real Clear Politics average, it basically mirrors that, and these are the average of recent polls. We're back with the panel. Jason?

JASON RILEY, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, we know why Donald Trump is doing this, and Jeb knows, too. Donald Trump thinks that George W. Bush is Jeb's biggest liability. And so to the extent that he can get Jeb having to defend his brother, Donald Trump feels like he has an edge.

But I also think this is a bit of a silly debate, rehashing 9/11 all these years later. If America believed that George Bush was responsible for 9/11, reelecting him was a funny way of showing it. So I think the country has moved past this even if we understand why Donald Trump is playing these politics.

BAIER: You know, Juan, it's interesting when he says these controversial things especially in the Republican primary race. When you look at the 9/11 commission, there was a lot of blame put on the Clinton administration that he did not talk about. And there is not a lot to talk about blame for the Obama administration on how things went in Iraq, you know, after the surge, et cetera, et cetera. How does that play overall long term in Republicans even though he seems to be ticking up in the polls?

JUAN WILLIAMS, THE HILL: Well, let's continue your logic, because it's very interesting. There is a timeline, I saw today, on George W. Bush's popularity. George W. Bush is more popular now than he has been in a long time. So it doesn't quite strike me as sensible that Trump would pick this moment to go after the memory of George W. Bush if you are trying to win a Republican primary.

But I thought Jason made a very acute point when he said, look, at this moment, what you get is Trump recognizing that even though Jeb is at eight percent, I think, in that "Wall Street Journal" poll, and, you know, far behind, like fifth place, he seems him long term as a greater threat. And he sees the brother and the Bush administration record as a liability, that if it you can say this is about the Bush name and the Bush record, you are going to damage that person and possibly force him out of the race for all time.

BAIER: Charles?  

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look, I think this was a successful attempt by Trump to bait Jeb into a discussion of the brother's administration. For Jeb, it's poison. Not because George W. was unpopular but because it takes him off topic. It takes him away from what he is going to offer. The one thing that an opponent would want in Jeb is to have to debate the family heritage. Number one, it reminds people he is a Bush. That's his one liability, the dynasty issue, the baggage, which is not his baggage but nonetheless attaches because of his name. And I think Jeb Bush went for it.

Now, the reason he did is honorable. He wants to defend his family. And I think he had to do that. But that's why I think it was a clever ploy.

But one thing I want to say is what's Trump going to say next, Pearl Harbor happened on FDR's watch so, what, is he responsible? I don't understand the logic here.

RILEY: If Donald Trump has a way to see terrorism, let's hear it. But "I wouldn't have allowed 9/11 to happen" is not a foreign policy. It's Monday morning quarterbacking is what it is.  

BAIER: We didn't hear this part, but Ben Carson over the weekend saying if the U.S. was energy independent the Arab states would have handed over Usama bin Laden. So another candidate talking 9/11.

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